Durbin: It Is Time For New Leadership At The Bureau Of Prisons

Durbin calls on AG Garland to dismiss BOP Director Carvajal

WASHINGTON – Following release of a report by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) that found that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has failed to negotiate with the prison guard union for more than 20 months, leading to the delay of more than 30 critical BOP policies to help protect BOP staff and inmates, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today reiterated his call for Attorney General Merrick Garland to replace BOP Director Michael Carvajal, who was appointed by then-Attorney General Barr during the Trump Administration.  In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin explained how Director Carvajal has failed to resolve chronic staffing shortages at BOP, has failed to contain outbreaks of COVID-19 within our federal prisons, and has failed to fully implement the bipartisan First Step Act.


Yesterday, the Associated Press published an investigation that found that BOP is a “hotbed of abuse, graft and corruption, and has turned a blind eye to employees accused of misconduct.”  Since 2019, more than 100 federal prison workers have been arrested, charged, or convicted of crimes, including sexual abuse, murder, and introducing contraband into prison.


“Both investigations confirm what we’ve known for a long time – the current Director of the Bureau of Prisons, Michael Carvajal, should no longer lead the Bureau of Prisons.  This morning, I publicly called on the Attorney General, Merrick Garland, to replace Mr. Carvajal with a reform-minded Director who is not a product of that Bureau’s bureaucracy,” Durbin said.  “There is no excuse for any further delay in dismissing Director Carvajal.  It is time for Attorney General Garland to appoint new leadership to the Bureau that will address the crises that he has created or allowed to exist, and take critical steps to reform our federal prison system.”


Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.


Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.


Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.


For years, Durbin has sought to address the injustices and challenges that impact the daily lives of incarcerated Americans and their families—along with the staff responsible for protecting both inmates and the communities surrounding our federal prisons.


He has worked across the aisle to pass bipartisan legislation like the Fair Sentencing Act and the First Step Act; held hearings on harrowing conditions of confinement, including the treatment of incarcerated individuals with mental illness and the abuse of solitary confinement; and, throughout both Republican and Democratic Administrations, has pushed DOJ and BOP to improve our criminal justice system.


In April, the Senate Judiciary Committee held its first oversight hearing of the Federal Bureau of Prisons since 2019.  Durbin’s opening statement from that hearing is available here.